Recent changes to our nation’s health care system have provided a significant range of protection options to the general public, particularly to the less privileged and the self-supporting individuals.
Private and public health plans alike have been impacted by the reforms, involving insurance plans for those with pre-existing conditions, individual health insurance, and self-employed health plans. Access to federally-funded, pre-existing condition health plans has been expanded, thus providing coverage to children below 19 years of age. Health insurance plans can no longer disqualify, nor deny, any person on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions. The new California state law includes various federal health reforms, including transparency on individual health insurance premiums, age limits for dependents, children’s pre-existing health conditions, free preventive care services, and many others.
In 2014, it is required that every individual must have medical coverage or face a penalty charge of one percent on total income the first year, with the charge increasing to two percent in succeeding years. Many supporters thought the movement would assist every private and self-employed individual to enjoy competitive individual health insurance coverage from many different insurance firms. The assumption was there would be an increase in participation of private and non-profit insurance companies, as well as encourage more and healthier competition among insurers and insurance products in terms of keeping costs stable and enhancing coverage and quality of service.
But are other issues developing as health care changes move forward? Will there be an increase in healthy competition or will the opposite occur?
Critics of the program believe this act may force an increasing number of health insurance providers to leave the business when the alternative is spending part of their profit margins on servicing customers that previously had been denied care. According to a recent article published in Forbes magazine, for-profit health insurers are opting to leave the business than comply with the new requirements that would mandate a percentage of the profits be spent on providing actual health care, not covering their own administrative costs. Unfortunately, among those leaving are key players in the industry, leaving those seeking health care with fewer options than before. This is already occurring in states such as California. Many fear that the new requirements, according to the Forbes article, will make the insurance business simply not worth pursuing.
Will this mean less individual health insurance options for all consumers, including California residents, and the move toward a more unified system? Will the state-sponsored Health Insurance Exchanges that are a part of the mandate be an ideal solution to help keep insured options open? Such Health Insurance Exchanges are already taking shape today. Each state must now have these exchanges available by the year 2014, per federal law. The health insurance exchange is intended to help individuals and small businessmen choose, compare, and buy health plans within their budget. The intent of the exchanges is to allow the individual and self-employed access to various individual California health insurance plans and options that work for them, within their budget. Critics argue it will only fail, resulting in higher premiums and less options for those seeking coverage.
Regardless of which side of the health care debate you sit on, it’s undeniable that changes are already occurring for both insurance agencies and the consumers they insure.
To find out more about the many health care reforms and changes now taking place in California, click here. We’re your one-stop resource for health insurance, as well as the most current information to keep you updated as these changes to our country’s health care system unfold.